The Penguins played a gritty five periods last night. But it doesn’t matter.
Dan Bylsma coached an excellent game. But it doesn’t matter.
You can’t wait until Game 3 of a playoff series to play playoff hockey. You can’t wait until Game 3 to dump the hubris and entitlement.
You can’t wait until Game 3 to make adjustments that should have been made during the second intermission of Game 1.
Let’s not sugar-coat: THIS IS UNMITIGATED DISASTER.
There isn’t enough cyber-space to accommodate all the legit criticism. First and foremost, blame the stars. Crosby + Letang + Malkin = 0 points.
But some things are particularly galling. Like Deryk Engelland’s presence on the ice for Boston’s game-winning goal in the second OT.
Engelland is not a conference final-level player. Just isn’t.
Engelland has heart, and grit. But in Bylsma’s “everyone is equal” blueprint, Engelland is rushing the puck and jumping into the play. Round hole, square peg. If you want every defenseman to play the same way, Simon Despres is a round peg.
Despres was, by far, the best defense partner for Kris Letang this season. The Penguins were a nailed-on playoff team before a regular-season game was even played. Dress Despres. Develop Despres. Coach Despres. He’s a first-round pick with incredible upside. Not a former Las Vegas Wrangler.
If Despres isn’t ready, that’s not necessarily all Despres’ fault.
Look at Beau Bennett. He gave the Penguins a spark in the opening game of the playoffs. He’s got speed and skill. Bennett played very well last night.
It was his first game since May 22.
If Byslma wants to coach ECHL players, he should go to Wheeling. His devotion to fringe players who work hard didn’t lose this series for the Penguins.
But it didn’t do anything to help the Penguins win, either.